Van from TMZ | Thank you for checking Kanye West

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The internet has been collashing (colliding and clashing) over a recent TMZ interview with Kanye West. The College Dropout mogul has held the public mind for quite some time with his eclectic approach to free speech- from calling out the late president George W. BushJr on his insensitivity to Black people, to his shameless advocacy and promotion of the current president Donald Trump. The Southside Chicago native is a walking creation of intersectional politics of race, class and gender.  While many people might tolerate West's comments about freedom of speech, his lack of self-awareness disturbs even his own fans. 

Everything seemed to be going normally in the interview until West opened up about his opinion on how people view, noting that he does not want to be "minimized" to "artist," or "hip hop," or "Black person."  Then, the interview cuts to the statement that made woke up Black twitter:
"When you hear about slavery for 400 years. For 400 years?! That sounds like a choice."
More than West's unfactual understandings of slavery, there is a big issue in how Kanye West sees Black identity, and even artist identity, as minimizing. West is hungry for control, power, and a version of the truth with his resistance to question identities that make him who he is. The need for more, for options, for intersectional identities, for questions, for feelings all indicate a confused and delusional Kanye West.


Really, the whole issue of Kanye West is a pitiful disheartening case of what we call the "Tom Trauma." His need for more might also come from his experience of having more, and seeing more as a result of the results of  his own work, he *earned* his success, and we can guess that along way he had to unlearn, and relearn quite a few things in the process.
"People were taught how to think, we're taught how to feel. We don't know how to think for ourselves, we don't know how to feel for ourselves. People say feel free, but they don't want us to feel free." 
This sounds like a real, really hurt, person. Like many of us earthlings inflicted by the oppression of human society, Kanye West is really hurt. Now, this does not show him pity, because the truth is we all are working through traumas of past and present, West just happens to have gotten rich and famous on his journey to seeking truth, healing, purpose, validation (all the stuff that makes us humans happy).

However, if we contextualize his behavior with his intersectional identities as a multi-millionaire Black man from the Southside of Chicago, we can better understand that inherent in his identity are paradoxes and confusion. It is so easy to judge people in the spotlight, especially when we don't have the full picture of West's inner working. However, we would hope that at least the people around him would behoove West to step outside the inner workings of his mind, fact check for clarity and cohesion, and really make an approach that activates critical thinking. Sort of like what Chance:

Or from John Legend:

While all his friends publicly and privately check in on West, we can always count on Black Twitter to clapback and go in. Honesly, the #IfSlaveryWereAChoice response was so disgustingly humorous, because the memes and images imagined the ridiculousness and irony of Black people choosing to be enslaved.

There were some Tweets, with personalized stories of modern-day Black enslavement, and while the imagination does the darndest things, the ideas are so close to the truth, they're just downright sad.


While all the #IfSlaveryWereAChoice memes continue to populate the internet, we wonder, where was the recognition in what Van from TMZ publicly shared with West? There are very few people really calling out Kanye West personally for some of his insensitive behavior, and we're glad that the crew at TMZ had that chance: 
"I actually don't think you're thinking anything. I think what you're doing right now is actually the absence of thought, and the reason why I feel like that is because Kanye, you're entitled to your opinion, you're entitled to believe whatever you want, but there is fact and real-world, real-life consequence behind everything that you just said. And while you are making music, and being an artist,  and the living the life that you've earned by being a genius, the rest of us in society have to deal with these threats to our lives. We have to deal with the marginalization that's come from the 400 years of slavery that you said for our people was a choice. Frankly, I'm diaspointed, I'm appaled, and brother I am unbelievabley hurt by the fact that you have morphed into something, to me, that's not real"  
The truth in this message sizzles and resounds everytime we hear it. Van dropped so much knowledge on him, that West had to walk over to his desk and personally apologize "bro, I'm sorry I hurt you, I'm sorry I hurt you, bro." In addition to really calling out Kanye West in a way that has never been done before, really Van calls out to all of us to take responsibility of our actions as members of the Black community, or outside of the Black community, who have all been affected by the 400 years of slavery that still have systemic implications on our societies till this day.

Before we ridicule, we should all do more 

Firstly, we should be thinking about where the reparations went, instead of harnessing disgust and shame for Kanye West, a small individual, with a big voice, and a lot of money. We should all being our job to be better than West's messages that lack self-awareness and empathy. Here at, we especially find these moments with the amplified voice of ignorance to push us to do more education and change work in the realms of economic justice, media, and Black lives.